The LA Galaxy defeated Chivas USA 3-0 at the StubHub! Center this afternoon. Robbie Keane, Stefan Ishizaki, and Baggio Husidic all got on the scoresheet as LA was able to dominate the pace of the match and score almost at will. Chivas put many men behind the wall, and each goal had elements of combating such a compacted defense.
With the victory, the Galaxy moved to 19-4-6 all time against their alleged rivals with a 9-2-3 record while designated the road team. Since 2008 the Galaxy have suffered only one loss to Chivas, posting a 12-1-4 record against the other local club.
Arena stuck with the 4-4-2 diamond and placed Landon Donovan up top with Robbie Keane. That this change led to three goals didn't seem to ring true to Bruce Arena, who is quite notably anti-formation as a determinant of victory:
"If we somehow shifted [Marcelo] Sarvas next to Juninho and Stefan [Ishizaki] a little on the right and Baggio [Husidic] a little bit on the right, the world wasn't going to change," said Bruce Arena. "Don't be understanding that this formation is what we're changing; it's the 11 players on the field."
It's worth noting that when Donovan did drop back to the midfield, he mixed it up in the final third just as much as he did when he was a forward. The main difference when Samuel did come in for Ishizaki is that the Galaxy had a target to hold the ball, spreading out Chivas some.
Still, if what is important is the eleven players on the pitch, the Galaxy did go with their third lineup is as many matches. To some degree it was out of necessity with A.J. DeLaGarza and James Riley both picking up injuries in the road match at RSL, and Gyasi Zardes held out with injury as well. There's likely to be a fourth such lineup run out next weekend, with Dunivant leaving the match with an abdominal strain.
Leonardo started at center back and managed to go ninety minutes without a trademark gaff. Gargan started in place of Riley on the right, and with Marcelo Sarvas returning to the starting lineup Bruce Arena chose to move Donovan up top and bench Friend. With two goals coming from the midfield, it'd be hard to argue that attacking position was key to the three goal victory.
"There's not a ton of guys in this league who can score a goal like Stefan did," said Landon Donovan. "That takes really quality to score a goal like that. Baggio's movement and his passing has been great in terms of the way that he links up with us. His finishing has been good as well. We have more experience and more quality as well and it's showing."
Husidic and Ishizaki scored their first goals as members of the Galaxy, while Keane made it 36 goals in just 59 MLS appearances. Against Chivas USA in their last 6 MLS meetings the Galaxy have outscored the Goats 17-2 in what is called a SuperClasico series.
Homegrown Player Oscar Sorto made his MLS debut when Todd Dunivant went down with injury. Dunivant plans to get a scan on Monday, but wasn't feeling positive about the chances of it coming back clean.
With their best passing unit out there, the Galaxy at one point were able to string together 33 passes. With Chivas' bus starting to break down in the second half, LA was able to put together an 11 pass sequence that past the midfield involved Keane, Donovan, Sarvas and then Husidic finally putting the ball away from outside the penalty area. The Galaxy made 520 passes, and completed 88 percent of them. That's really good.
"When guys are combining," said Landon Donovan, "it's really difficult to defend against. When Robbie and I get underneath the other guys are recognizing it well and moving forward. Marcelo got behind them, Baggio got behind them, Stefan got behind them, Juninho got forward and made plays, so when you make defenders deal with all those things, it makes it very difficult."
The Galaxy will hope to carry this momentum in back to back matches with the Vancouver Whitecaps, first at the StubHub! Center next weekend, and then up in Canada the following weekend. Injury reports are going to be important as the LA triage unit continues to pile up.